Wednesday, May 4, 2016

WINNERS TAPE ALL: The Henderson Brothers Story - Brainwrap Films (DVD Review)

Directed By: Justin Channell
Written By: Justin Channell, Zane Crosby, Josh Lively
Starring: Zane Crosby, Josh Lively, Chris LaMartina
Color/67 Minutes/Not Rated
Region 1
Release Date: March 23, 2016

The Film
The video store was never more popular than it was in the late 80s and the shelves were never overflowing with horror titles as they were in that same period. From the latest slasher sequel to the backyard shot-on-video feature that found distribution and made an easy buck for someone horror movies ruled the store. A couple brothers from a small West Virginia town named Michael and Richard Henderson found some of that success when their own SOV slasher movie The Curse Of Stabberman released by their own production and distribution company Cameo Video (it almost rhymes, which is good) found its way to video store shelves and made money. After their second feature Cannibal Swim Club flopped the brothers declared bankruptcy and fell off the radar until a horror movie fanatic and VHS collector from their hometown discovered these relics and got in touch with the brothers to restore the movies and create a new feature film with them all while documenting their history in an on camera interview.

So the Henderson Brothers are just characters and there's no collector turned producer named Henry Jacoby but this story could have been any one of the hundreds or thousands of SOV horror flicks that lined video store shelves being rediscovered by rabid fans today that are keeping VHS alive. It's immediately obvious that writer/director Justin Channell is a huge fan of these films as he perfectly nails the retro footage from both of the Henderson's films. The aesthetic is spot on and the jokes are funny. Actually this entire movie is hilarious. Doing a proper mockumentary requires a love for what is being riffed on and Channell's direction along with the work of co-writers Zane Crosby and Josh Lively shows that love and a genuine knack for word play.

Crosby and Lively also star as the Henderson brothers while Chris LaMartina, who may be of note to indie horror fans for his recent directorial work on films such as Call Girl Of Cthulhu and WNUF Halloween Special, co-stars as Henry Jacoby and I haven't a single bad thing to say about any of them. Crosby and Lively ham it up just enough without getting too silly and LaMartina plays the more straight forward role of superfan turned producer with a touch of comedy that is natural and makes the entire trio's performance work so well together.

This movie is obviously made for horror fans and we're even treated to a bit of blood and guts with the retro footage of the Henderson Brothers' work. Even that is well done in a truly DIY shot on video style including the blood being coughed up on every single dead body (it's science!).

I love the story of The Henderson Brothers and WINNERS TAPE ALL should end up being talked about among the best indie horror and comedy films of the year. It's that good.

The Audio & Video
The DVD release of WINNERS TAPE ALL looks great in regards to both the sit down interview footage which is sharp and clean as it should be and in the faux film footage that genuinely looks like it was shot on VHS in the late 80s. Everything is presented exactly as it should be. The audio is no different, crisp and clear, it's like the angels singing the praises of the Henderson Brothers. I have no issues with the A/V quality of this release.

The Extras
-Audio Commentary with director Justin Channell and Michael Henderson
-Interview Outtakes
-HD Restoration Demos of the Henderson Brothers' Films

The Bottom Line
I have no hesitations in highly recommending WINNERS TAPE ALL for any fans of shot on video horror and the era of VHS. It's a love letter brilliantly wrapped up in a mockumentary package and I loved every second of it.

WINNERS TAPE ALL: THE HENDERSON BROTHERS STORY is available at the following locations: Brainwrap City (DVD), VHX (VOD), IWC Films (DVD and VOD)

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